Links 4/23/19

Could a computer ever rival Rembrandt or Beethoven? BBC (David L)

Just 10% of U.S. plastic gets recycled. A new kind of plastic could change that Science (David L)

The Problem With Putting a Price on the End of the World New York Times (Dr. Kevin)

Greenland Is Melting Even Faster Than Experts Thought, Study Finds CNN

The Sea Beneath Us Bay Nature (Paul R). Important.

Unreliable Nature Of Solar And Wind Makes Electricity Much More Expensive, Major New Study Finds Forbes


NIH, FBI Accuse Scientists In US of Sending IP To China, Running Shadow Labs ars technica

Microsoft workers decry grueling ‘996’ working standard at Chinese tech firms Guardian

Sri Lanka faces scrutiny over bomb warnings BBC

Sri Lanka bombings: Local Islamists to blame, government says DW


Not Hearing About Brexit For Whole Week Declared Better Than Sex Waterford Whisperers (PlutoniumKun)

What will happen next with Brexit now MPs are back in Westminster? Independent (Kevin W)

MPs to warn Theresa May she will be forced out over Brexit failure if she fails to name her departure date Telegraph

Brexit latest: Cross-party talks to resume as Theresa May faces fresh pressure to quit Independent


Iran oil: US to end sanctions exemptions for major importers BBC

Trump’s Latest Iran Sanctions Show an Unraveling of US Foreign Policy Real News Network

Add Trump’s Yemen Veto to Obama’s Spotty War Legacy New Republic (resilc)

The Constitutional Travesty of Our War in Yemen American Conservative (resilc)

War in Libya: A Rare Instance of U.S.-Russian Cooperation LobeLog (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Facial Recognition Creeps Up on a JetBlue Passenger ZDNet

EU Votes To Create Gigantic Biometrics Database ZDNet

Imperial Collapse Watch

Lockheed (LMT) Costly F-35 to Be Billions More, Pentagon Finds Bloomberg

US threatens to veto UN resolution on rape as weapon of war, officials say Guardian (Kevin W)

Trump Transition

Trump wins over big donors who snubbed him in 2016 Politico (UserFriendly)

House Judiciary chairman subpoenas former White House lawyer McGahn The Hill

What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due? Counterpunch (resilc).

Democrats Ran On Lowering Drug Prices. Now They Could Cut A Bad Deal With Donald Trump. Huffington Post

Supreme Court could limit FOIA, curtail investigative reporting Columbia Journalism Review (Doug S)

Nancy Pelosi shows no restraint on disparaging young progressive women Guardian (resilc)


Bernie Sanders has Democrats on the ropes – is he the man to beat Trump? Guardian (resilc)

TYPOGRAPHY 2020: A SPECIAL LISTICLE FOR AMERICA Butterick’s Practical Typogrphy (resilc). Fun. And a reminder that real designer people sweat things most of us take for granted.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Baltimore’s Endless Pursuit of Keith Davis Jr. Intercept (resilc). Distressing.

No trial date yet for Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes San Francisco Chronicle

The “disintegration” of global capitalism could unleash world war 3, warns top EU economist Medium

Samsung delays shipping its $2,000 folding smartphone. Analysts say that hurts the brand CNBC

Google Walkout Organizers Say They’re Facing Retaliation Wired. Quelle surprise!

Report: ‘Photographer’ among 2018’s worst jobs due to rise of freelancing, smartphones DPReview (David L)

Germ Killing Brands Now Want To Sell You Germs Bloomberg (Dr. Kevin)

How Millennials Are Reshaping Real Estate SafeHaven

Class Warfare

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Proposes Student-Debt Cancellation

Elizabeth Warren Is Coming for Your Student Loan Debt New York Magazine

Shifting neighborhoods: Gentrification and cultural displacement in American cities NCRC (martha r). From last month, still germane.

Shelter uproar highlights strife in expensive San Francisco Associated Press (David L)

Boeing 737 Unable to Trim!! Cockpit video (Full flight sim) YouTube (YY)

Silicon Valley Came to Kansas Schools. That Started a Rebellion. ACQ

Antidote du jour. Frank:

These two pictures were taken just outside my door in Windham, VT on April 3, 2019. I believe that the bird is a Black-capped Chickadee with a condition called Leucism. The bird is not an albino, but does not produce melanin properly.

At our feeder just now we are having lots of Black caps, some Junco’s, an occasional Nuthatch, and one Tufted Tit-mouse. The other birds do not seem to ostracize White-Cap as we call him/her.

And a bonus (Richard Smith):

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    1. pjay

      Thanks Olga. This video has been popping up in several places due to Assange’s “advertisement” of Vidal’s book. Very few US citizens know anything about this history, as we were always taught the opposite Cold War story. As you say, still very relevant, probably even more so today.

    2. dearieme

      There’s a Gore Vidal interview where he referred to the British Secret Intelligence Service as “M Sixteen”.

      1. urblintz

        I hope you are not trying to make the point that Vidal is stupid…. that would be a mistake.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          I think that’s Vidal’s joke about the spooks being a wee bit murderous.

          I’ve been reading his book Imperial America which was the last in series of books he put out in the early aughts criticizing US imperialism. This one contains essays he put out in the 80s railing against demonizing the Soviet Union as a threat just to keep the MI complex flush with lucre. Change Soviet Union to Russia and the essays would read as if it were written today.

          1. dearieme

            I think that’s Vidal’s joke about the spooks being a wee bit murderous.

            That’s very generous of you, but wrong.

        1. dearieme

          Nah, he was just making the sort of blunder that if Trump had made it would get GV’s successors claiming that the oaf must have an IQ of 80.

      2. ewmayer

        Link? If you’re going to belabor whatever point you’re oh-so-condescendingly trying to make, at least provide a video clip or transcript by way of fuller context.

    3. Alex morfesis

      Meh…Stalin played along, he could have laughed at the notion rearming a country that had almost lost to Poland in 1939 was going to make a comeback… It served both sides to keep the war going…

      Japan and Russia are still technically at war, correct ?

      Vlad raz putina is happy with the current opportunity to sell arms along side the you ESS of hay hey xaeee…

      Let’s you and him fight…

      please no fake crocodile tears for the peace loving multiparty Democratic republic of Moskva…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Does Vidal criticize Russia or did he the USSR?

        One response to that question is this: ‘You should criticize your own country first, Gore!’

        I am sure there were soviets and there are Russians who criticized or criticize the USSR or Russia. We just don’t see them linked there. One reason is that we have enough problems of our own here in the USA already.

        The down side of not getting more Russia-critical links from Russians is we don’t get a wider view of the world. And we could be ourselves be criticized as ignorant Americans for not knowing how much the USSR or Russia* could or should be criticized by Russians themselves.

        *or other world powers as well.

      2. pjay

        This type of cynical “curse on both houses” rhetoric sounds objective and “woke” to some people. But it is actually a great barrier to understanding past history and current reality. “… he could have laughed at the notion rearming a country that had almost lost to Poland in 1939 was going to make a comeback…” Are you serious? Do you recall what happened after 1939? Further, beyond the betrayals of Yalta and Potsdam noted by Vidal, the US was already rescuing and integrating elements of Nazi intelligence into its own anti-communist apparatus *before WWII was even over*. The USSR was devastated, and we had the Bomb. You think Stalin was laughing?

        Such false equivalence is as potent a mechanism of ideology as our one-sided Cold War mythology of the US as the indispensable beacon of democracy. Equating Putin’s Russia with Trump’s US is similarly unhelpful.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The USSR also employed Germans useful to them, after the war. For example, operation Soviet Alsos, so they could have their own Bomb.

          If we believe it’s better we reform and improve our own country, instead of facing a victorious country imposing on us, we have to be more critical of ourselves than others. In that case, it maybe both houses, but we focus on our own.

          And that goes for all nations. Russians will wish to be more critical of Russia themselves, for example. And in this case, we keep in mind, it’s both houses, even if Russians are being more critical of their own country.

          1. ewmayer

            “The USSR also employed Germans useful to them, after the war. For example, operation Soviet Alsos, so they could have their own Bomb.” — And why did the Soviets need to do all that R&D to make their own bomb? Because the US had clearly labeled them as a not-to-be-trusted second-class ally by refusing to share with them the same technologies they readily provided to fellow allies Britain and France. After the yeoman’s work and ocean of spilled blood the USSR provided to help defeat Nazi Germany, that was a clear slap in the face. Sure, Stalin was a mass-murderous bastard, but the postwar treatment of the USSR by the western “first-class allies” was nonetheless inexcusable.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              The USSR needed to have one for, at the very least, defensive purposes, a supposed ally or not.

              The logic works for all world powers, at any time, not just post war. And so, China wanted to have one, too. As did, earlier than those two, the French, and the British…both our allies, but still wanting their own.

              On the other hand, had the USSR got there first, or any nation, the US would want to catch up* too. And it is doubtful the soviets would want to share that.

              *America did have to catch in the race to space.

      3. The Rev Kev

        @Alex morfesis
        Just remember that the Russians aren’t doing military maneuvers on the Mexican or Canadian borders nor are they establishing nuclear-tipped missiles in those countries either.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          Is that what we call those photo op parades posing for recruitment videos by the ruski border ? Military maneuvers ?…with those “large” numbers of troops we could probably hold Priory Palace in Gatchina for a few hours until the cleaning lady’s show up at night and shoo the troops away with their brooms…

          1. The Rev Kev

            Saw a list several months ago of military maneuvers being held in Europe, mostly near Russia. As a print out, it would have not fitted onto one page. NATO were literally holding tank parades within a block or two of the Russian border. NATO planes fly repeated missions to the aerial borders.
            Can you imagine what would happen if such a tank parade was held at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side? How about Russian military bases in San Felipe and Chihuahua? How about Russian nuclear missiles back again in Cuba. It’s simple. You have to see how the other side sees your actions and walk in their shoes. Might makes right only gets you so far in foreign policy. And then you get the blowback – usually in the back of the neck.

  1. PlutoniumKun

    Unreliable Nature Of Solar And Wind Makes Electricity Much More Expensive, Major New Study Finds Forbes

    Solar panels and wind turbines are making electricity significantly more expensive, a major new study by a team of economists from the University of Chicago finds.

    Economists…. from the University of Chicago. Well, that’s settled then.

    Looking at his priors, the writer has clearly an agenda (nothing wrong with that, but even the way he’s written the article indicates a strong level of confirmation bias). But there are plenty of other studies, in particular in Europe, which suggest otherwise.

    In short, its a complicated question, far beyond the scope of a single study carried out by UC economists.

    The truth is that the answer to the question of whether renewables cost more for electricity is ‘it depends’. It depends on how you calculate the sunk costs, what your timescale is, what your assumptions are for maintenance and long term fuel costs/projections, the discount rates applied, the type of spot market pricing mechanisms used, and perhaps most importantly, your existing fuel mix and grid network pattern, not to mention how you price intangibles such as grid resilience, import substitution, defence considerations and non-CO2 environmental considerations.

    1. TalkingCargo

      Yep, whenever I see that author’s name (Michael Shellenberger) I expect a load of hooey. He co-founded the Breakthrough Institute with Ted Nordhaus (brother of William). I used to visit their website occasionally until I realized that their answer to every environmental problem was more and better technology.

      I agree with Larry – nicely skewered.

      1. heresy101

        Agree that PK dealt well with the facts but not with Michael Shellenberger’s pro-nuclear propaganda and lies of the the Breakthrough Institute and Environmental Progress. Some comments on him and the article:
        “EP’s campaign has involved a blizzard of misinformation and relentless, dishonest attacks against environment groups, particularly Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Greenpeace.”

        A German shreds his pro-nuclear propaganda in a Counterpunch article:
        “The Breakthrough Institute majors in factual avoidance, so Shellenberger and Hayward don’t mention that the U.S. installed zero GW of new nuclear in 2015 compared to 8.5 GW of new wind and 7.3 GW of new solar but just 5.94 GW of natural gas.” The difference was much greater in 2018.

        Dailykos addressed his rant:

        1. davidgmillsatty

          Doesn’t mean we should not go nuclear. We developed an entirely different type of nuclear power in the 60s and 70’s at Oak Ridge using molten salt as a coolant and the idea was to use thorium in the next prototype. These two things would have made nuclear vastly different than it is. First, salt when melted stays liquid for 1,000 C so no to pressurize it like water. All three major nuclear accidents had one thing in common — the failure of water to cool the reactor due to pressurization of water issues. Having to make pressurized vessels is what makes reactors so expensive as well as dangerous. Reactors at one atmosphere of pressure are extremely safe. Second, nuclear power is a million times as energy dense as fossil fuel, meaning one millionth of atomic fuel is needed to produce the same amount of energy as a fossil fuel. Third, thorium made a good breeder reactor but it made a lousy bomb. And the government wanted reactors that could make bombs and power. Fourth, Thorium produced very little long lasting nuclear waste and what is did produce is good nuclear fuel. Fifth, these reactors can be made on assembly lines just like ships or planes. Cranking out hundreds a year is very doable.

          There are half a dozen other things I could say about the mistake we made by not commercializing molten salt thorium reactors. It would have changed the world. China is working on making a thorium molten salt reactor now, using the technology we developed at Oak Ridge. Once they do, renewables will be pointless as they will never compete with nuclear.

    2. dearieme

      Not really. The costs of renewables are so high that you’d need to make some fabulous assumptions to overturn the conclusions.

      I speak as an early enthusiast for wave power. But it turns out that even that attractive idea has proved hellish difficult to make practical and economic.

      Maybe solar power will turn out well in the right climates and geographies if scientific and engineering advances continue. Maybe not. But wind power is purest baloney.

      1. Ignacio

        Lazard: Renewables can challenge existing coal plants on price

        The latest version of Lazard’s levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis finds that U.S. onshore wind energy costs average between $26/MWh and $56/MWh without subsidies, while utility-scale solar averages between $36/MWh and $44/MWh. That challenges the average cost for existing U.S. coal plants, which Lazard pegs between $27/MWh and $45/MWh

      2. Grant

        There’s a problem with talking about these things in regards to just markets and information in markets though. This reality should be front and center in regards to the environmental crisis. Markets are missing lots of information, so how much renewables actually cost is radically different than what the market says, and how much they cost relative to coal, natural gas and oil is radically different than the information in markets. In some areas, they might be more costly, maybe the ecosystem impact of mining particular materials in some instances is worse than alternatives, but to get a picture on what is actually more costly overall, we would need a life-cycle ecosystem impact to accompany the information that is in markets. If we just use market information alone to make these decisions, we’re toast. Part of the reason why some things are more economical relative to others is that the non-market impacts of particular things are often gigantic, but not included in prices. At this point, we can’t afford to just rely on markets to guide our decisions.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        You are way out of date and out of line with those statements. All authorities agree that in most markets on-shore wind and solar are now competitive with coal and gas, and in many situations are cheaper.

        The US EIA has produced copious research on this – plenty of data and levelized cost estimates here:

        Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources February 2019

        Lazards provides more accessible data here.

        Similar data and comparisons can be found in various EU reports, including this one.

        1. Sanxi

          With regard to information you are correct, with regard to reality I don’t think this is a market problem. I say with great respect to all your efforts.

        2. Plenue

          Should cost even be an issue at this point? A good use of MMT, maybe the single most critical, would be to fix any profitability problems.

          “We can’t do X because it isn’t profitable.”

          Well screw profitability then. We *have* to be doing more renewables. The idea that we can’t because the finances may not be in the green is ludicrous. Then play number games until they are in the green. Do we want unaided market viability or do we want to not be extinct?

    3. Ignacio

      Interestingly, renewables seem to be questioned more often lately. This no doubt reflects that these are gaining ground. I’ve recently made some economic analysis on roof-top solar projects with electricity costs ranging 0,033-0,038 €/kwh (consumer price) while in Spain the market offers about 0,035 €/kwh (wholesale, not retail which is about 0,13 €/kwh) without distribution costs (only generation). And it is said that utility solar is cheaper than roof top.

      1. Wukchumni

        Saw something interesting on our drive back from Mammoth…

        Heretofore, i’ve only seen sizable solar array farms on pretty much worthless land (on Hwy 395 when the sun hits them just right, you see what appears to be large square shimmering lakes in the distance…) although on this skijourn we came back a different way on Hwy 65, where I spied 4 solar farms ensconced in between newly planted orchards.

        You start making money from day 1 on a solar farm, whereas it takes 7-10 years to come a cropper on an orchard, when the trees start producing enough to make them commercially viable, annuities that then start paying out like clockwork for 20-30 years hence.

        1. Brian (another one they call)

          We will appreciate the power from the panels when the sun is on, and batteries will have to do the rest. We have power should damage occur to any part of the grid short of an EMP. The price for this luxury is cost of maintenance after the purchase. The benefits are 1/0, electricity or not.
          We don’t have a choice to go without x amount of power. Perhaps these issues should be included in the calculations of cost v. value. Consider what might happen if forests have to be logged for heat and light again? Nat Gas comes via pipelines and they begin in another country for some of the Pacific Northwest.
          I enjoy coming upon solar farms by surprise. One of the signs of a future. What if our future involves much less power per capita?

          1. Wukchumni

            LED lights need almost no power compared to old lumens, and to hasten away darkness after the sun sets, they’ll fit in nicely in the new normal of less power.

          2. Sanxi

            If you can pump water up hill you don’t need batteries. As recently mentioned here at NC in a MIT tech review article.

              1. Tom Bradford

                Actually, pumped hydro. During the day excess solar power is used to pump water up to a store/reservoir and at night when the sun isn’t shining the water is released through turbines to generate hydo power. Rinse and repeat. See Dinorwig hydro in Wales.

                In reality it’s more complex, of course, but as a supplement to wind and solar, storing excess power from those sources for use when the sun isn’t shining and or the wind isn’t blowing, it answers the main criticism.

                Apologies if you knew all that. I wasn’t sure.

    4. Robert Valiant

      “The truth is that the answer to the question of whether renewables cost more for electricity is ‘it depends’. ”

      Does it depend at all on levels of consumption? For example, what if instead of single occupant 4,500 lb commuter Teslas, we drove much simpler 1,200 lb, two passenger electric cars with much smaller batteries? I know those don’t really exist in the US, but they could.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thats quite a complex question – if, for example, there is an increase in consumption due to electric cars, the impact on the cost of renewables would depend to a large extent on how controllable the demand is temporally. For example, if you can bring in smart metering so that cars only charge when there is a surplus in the system, then it would proportionately make renewables cheaper as it would address the big problem of matching dispatchable supply with demand. But if everyone insisted on charging their cars during periods of existing high demand (on a winters evening in colder climes, around midday in hot climes), then you’d have big trouble.

        It all comes back to the same thing – there is no such thing as a fixed cost for any fuel for producing electricity. The real cost depends on the existing mix, the existing grid, changes in supply and demand, and numerous other factors. Then add to this the complexity of addressing future changes in cost and demand for all the various options. Then you have the problem of intangibles I mentioned above (things like resilience, other environmental costs, national security issues, hidden subsidies, etc).

        Which is why simplistic research like the UC study has little real worth as its using highly simplified assumptions.

        1. Ignacio

          I believe that car charges are and will be done mostly by night when demand is lower. In Spain and I guess in many EU countries, if you buy a car and live in a community building nobody can legally stop you to put a charger in your parking site.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            In Ireland, because we are a very small grid, we’ve always had differential pricing – most people pay half price for night time electricity (which is why nearly everyone uses nighttime water heaters and storage heaters).

            In my apartment building, we are looking into providing chargers in our basement carpark. At the moment we have a (free!) charger for 2 cars on the street outside, but several people are buying EV’s so there is a demand. Providing the plugs is cheap, the problem is how to charge for it – the wiring to link into everyones individual system would cost us far more than we can afford.

            Most likely, we will start out on an honesty system, asking people to pay a fixed monthly small fee for an outlet at their parking space, and ask that people only charge at night. We’ll see how it works. Most likely our owner-occupiers will co-operate, renters as usual won’t.

            1. LifelongLib

              My parents owned a unit at a condo in Utah where there was a meter on each electric car parking space, and the bill went to the space’s owner. That avoided having to connect the parking space wiring to the owner’s unit.

            2. Yassine

              In France, we’ve had differential pricing (night vs day) with widespread use of water tank electric heater, EJP tarrifs (Effacement Jour Pointe, which could be roughly translated to peak day shaving) and large scale storage through 5 GW of pumped hydro power since the 80s. All this only to be able to operate France’s large, unflexible nuclear fleet at its technico-economic optimum.

              This is what makes EDF fighting tooth and nail against renewable energies so infuriating : France has all the tools necessary (huge potential for wind, solar, biomass and hydro and a vast experience in large scale demand side management and storage) to make a cost effective 100% renewable grid a reality, but we installed only 7 GW of PV when Germany (not sunnier than France by any means) installed 45 GW…

              1. Tom Bradford

                New Zealand meets 82% of its power requirements with renewables and is aiming at 90%. I’d’a thought 100% wouldn’t be too difficult.

                Shows what can be done given the will.

              2. PlutoniumKun

                Yes, you make a point that needs to be said over and over, because pro-nuclear folks keep ignoring it – nuclear has the exact same basic problem of renewables – it does not produce dispatchable power – it is only viable for baseline, and even then requires additional backup because it is not as reliable as coal (more unplanned shutdowns need to be built into operating assumptions).

                Nuclear generators need additional back up storage and power generation to a similar extent that renewables need it. Only (under current market conditions) natural gas CCGT generators and hydro (if available) can provide both baseline, peak and dispatchable power.

                1. Ignacio

                  I concur. Nuclear types, I believe nuclear migth be a helping option but not the solution, are typically disingenuous. They belong to the culture of fully centralized generation and for that reason have a distaste for de-centralized renewables, particularly for self generation which is one of the best and most suitable solutions available, specially for PV solar. For instance, the beauty of a parking lot in which sun protecting roofs are made of solar panels. Nuclear cannot compete with that.

                  The risk of an enormous investment in nuclear is very high in the current situation and nuclear promoters know that they fully depend on public support. Baseload constancy is not guaranteed in medium to long terms because the other term in the equation, energy efficiency, will change it. Nuclear types tend to forget about energy efficiency and the enormous wastes that are intrinsic of fully centralized schemes.

        2. drexciya

          This is very much true. Way back when during my study (20+ years ago), what we covered was that you have to adjust your use of devices to the power being generated. For instance, if you want to use solar to power your own power consumption, you need to schedule when you use your washing machine, since it generates a relatively big load. So you cannot turn that device on, and expect to watch TV and use other devices.

          The same thing came up at the Register (UK IT site), when someone mentioned the, by default, limited power output (as measured in amps) you get in Spain. Unless you manage to get more amps of power, you have to plan your power consumption accordingly.

          Now scale this to a larger area, and take into account some additional nasty power users (spiking loads), and you see where things start to become complicated. You need to have a system in place which can generate the load required, and can adjust quickly when you need more or less output. This requires a really big load of batteries, or some capacity based on classic fuels, like natural gas or coal.

          1. Tom Bradford

            “You need to have a system in place which can generate the load required, and can adjust quickly when you need more or less output. This requires a really big load of batteries, or some capacity based on classic fuels, like natural gas or coal.”

            Or pumped hydro, as per Dinorwig above.

            “From standstill, a single 450-tonne generator can synchronise and achieve full load in approximately 75 seconds. ”

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      And every source of alternate energy, including tight oil, is going to cost fundamentally more than pumping sweet brent from a hole in the ground. I can’t help but see a ‘clap for tinkerbell’ logic that assumes that if we ignore all the hippy talk about alternatives and peak production then we can all go back to 1971. We tried that with Reagan.

      Reminds me of the ‘We are out of sweet rolls’ skit from the Electric Company:

    6. PlutoniumKun

      Just to add to my comment, I meant to link to this recent EU report which notes the complexities. Put simply, the higher the penetration of renewables, the higher the potential cost of each unit increase, but the point at which they become more expensive depends almost entirely on regional grid and power mix issues. In short, there is no clear answer, but there is no evidence that the cost is excessive.

      Effects of high shares of renewables on power systems.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Complexities…’It depends’…assumptions…no clear answer.

        It seems neither side could claim much convincingly, and we have a stalemate when decisive actions are needed.

        Perhaps there is a way to get around it. We can say that because this is a good thing to do, we will do it, even if it’s more expensive.

        For example, we can say wind energy is desirable, so, we will pay more for it, even if that is so, and being in an MMT monetary system, there is always money to subsidize.

        Another example is less consumption. TalkingCarge at 9:12AM below talks about that. The idea, itself, of less consumption is a desirable one. More consumption comes from our yiedling to greed, which drives us to want to consume more, and to acquire more, which leads to wealth inequality.

        I read recently about global warming causing inequality. I think it’s the other way around – greed motivating the desire to acquire, which leads to wealth inequality. So, maybe we want to promote the idea of less consumption, but we don’t have to get into details about numbers, about whether it’s cheaper or if whether the GDP will shrink, but because less consumption is itself desirable (for the world, if not for one’s own soul).

        1. PlutoniumKun

          When I say ‘it depends’, I mean less that ‘we don’t know’ than ‘there are numerous different variables involved, so it depends on the circumstances and how much you prioritise specific aims’. What this means in practice is that if you are a bad faith researcher you can make pretty much any conclusion you want by a careful choice of variables. Its not a ‘wrong’ answer, its just a heavily skewed one.

          We can say for certainty is that in most countries, renewables are now fully competitive with fossil fuels per unit of energy generated, and in many cases significantly cheaper (certainly cheaper than nuclear). And since they account for only a small percentage of power in most countries (the exception being those with lots of hydro), there is no excuse for not prioritising their investment, given what we know about climate change. Renewables also score highly if your priority is long term resilience in the face of uncertainty, and national security considerations (i.e. not being dependent on imported sources of fuel).

          The more complex question is at what stage we run out of low hanging fruit (easy sites for generation using the existing grid) and what we do when we face rapidly rising costs because of overproduction. Most studies I’ve seen indicate that this point comes at around 40-60% of power production with wind/solar with most smaller grids (it would be higher with very large grids) i.e. when about half your installed capacity is wind/solar. That’s when you have to start looking closely at back-up generation, storage, and long distance DC lines to other grids. If you are fortunate enough to have lots of hydro – like, say, Norway or Costa Rica, you could probably push it up to 100% without too much problem. Its far more problematic for other countries.

    7. Grumpy Engineer


      You’ve missed the point of the study. The question isn’t about the raw cost per kWh of energy delivered from renewable energy systems. That’s fairly low. The question is whether or not the utilization of renewable energy systems is causing people’s electricity bills to go up. And the answer appears to be a firm “YES”. And the University of Chicago guys aren’t the only ones to arrive at that conclusion. For another look, see the following chart. The trend line is quite strong and quite depressing.

      And why do electricity prices rise when we add renewable energy assets that deliver electricity at a low cost per kWh? It’s because we still have to keep the legacy generation assets around as backup. When the wind isn’t blowing and the sun has set, renewable power generates nothing. Which means we have to fire up the gas turbines (or coal-fired or nuclear stations) to keep the lights on.

      And because we’re operating those legacy assets intermittently (out-of-phase with the renewable assets), these stations now provide less overall energy, which means that their relatively fixed capital costs, maintenance costs, and labor costs are being spread over fewer kWh. Net result: Costs per kWh and electricity bills rise.

      The resulting energy poverty and attempts at electricity avoidance cause real harm:

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thank you for summarizing the points, and we can debate or challenge those points.

        Alternatively, if we believe in a certain course of action, an argument can be made that that is what we should do, even if it’s more expensive, and perhaps an MMT government can step in addressing that cost issue.

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          Please remember that there are limits to what even an MMT-embracing government can buy. The ability to print infinite dollars does not imply the ability to purchase infinite resources, whether those resources be people’s labor, raw materials, or energy inputs. If a plan for the US requires 200 million people, 800% of the world’s reserves of cobalt/lithium/vanadium, and 1.2e18 BTU of energy inputs, then you’ve got a real problem. MMT or not.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I would like to see the numbers.

            The money to look at is the amount to subsidize the cost differences between various renewables vs. conventional ones., not the entire cost.

            As well, we will be looking the portion of energy supply from renewables, not the entire energy supply, if it is the case that renewables are more expensive.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        With respect, the study was not about the penetration of renewable systems, but simply drew a correlation between renewable mandates and retail (not wholesale) costs. The report itself acknowledged that it was not renewables per se that were causing the rise, but the impact of the mandates (as opposed to carbon taxes or carbon credits, which the authors promote). What this study demonstrated is a correlation between States which mandated additional investment in supply over States which don’t. Its unsurprising that, say, southern States which have not mandated that older coal plants be replaced have, in the short term, cheaper retail rates – that’s to be expected.

        The link to European costs proves nothing except that countries with limited fossil fuel resources have more expensive electricity that those who burn lots of lignite in old Soviet era plants or have lots of cheap hydro. Thats hardly unexpected. France has cheap electricity because they are free riding from a massive nuclear investment in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. They are now in deep trouble as they find the cost of replacing those old plants will be astronomical – the EPR is a disaster and they are desperately seeking an alternative. High German power costs is as much down to their very high subsidy to domestic coal as it does to renewables (they also suffered from the ‘first adopter’ problem in renewables, especially in solar). Ireland, Denmark Spain and Italy are also very dependent on imports of expensive natural gas – all three countries have historically had very high electricity costs simply because they lack domestic coal and hydro reserves and have had little choice but to invest in more expensive alternatives.

        Renewables of course do need a different grid network pattern than thermal or nuclear – but its ‘different’, not necessarily more expensive. Ireland is investing heavily in a more decentralised grid, but this was essential as using imported coal and oil (burned in a small number of coastal plants) is no longer viable and the investment was needed anyway due to EU rules on resilient networks. On the other hand, the new generation of bigger wind turbines fits very well into Irelands relatively dense inland grid network. Gas has the benefit that it can ‘fit’ better with an existing grid, but at the cost than of having to provide a gas pipeline network, which is an additional cost not directly factored into electricity prices.

        So while I accept your general point that renewable investments can have unexpected knock on costs the exact same applies to most alternatives. The reality is that as energy mixes change, you need to change your grid networks. It is also a reality that if you push forward investments ahead of the normal investment cycle, it will put short term costs up, so the use of mandates or other forms of compulsory investment will push up retail prices (as opposed to paying in some other way, such as direct capital investment).

        1. Grumpy Engineer

          The reality is that as energy mixes change, you need to change your grid networks.

          That’s only true if you’re switching from controllable power generation sources to intermittent ones. If you replace a coal-fired station with a nuclear one situated nearby, there is very little you need to do the grid. Even better, you get to scrap the coal-fired station entirely, as you won’t have to rely on it for power generation at night or during periods of unfavorable weather. Maintenance costs go down accordingly.

          Renewables of course do need a different grid network pattern than thermal or nuclear – but its ‘different’, not necessarily more expensive.

          I would very much expect it to be more expensive because the new grid network must now do double duty. It must handle the widely distributed variably-producing assets that will dominate during sunny and windy days, and it must also handle the centralized legacy assets that will provide all power generation during windless nights. How can this be merely ‘different’ and not more expensive when it has to handle many more power sources with many different directions of power flow?

          [Sigh… Sometimes I really wish we hadn’t lost the capability of building nuclear power stations cost-effectively in western Europe and the US. I fully expect the renewables-based approach to stall out early, providing inadequate benefit to the environment while hurting the poor along the way.]

          1. PlutoniumKun

            That’s only true if you’re switching from controllable power generation sources to intermittent ones. If you replace a coal-fired station with a nuclear one situated nearby, there is very little you need to do the grid. Even better, you get to scrap the coal-fired station entirely, as you won’t have to rely on it for power generation at night or during periods of unfavorable weather. Maintenance costs go down accordingly.

            This is certainly true if other characteristics are the same, but frequently they are not. Nuclear has other locational characteristics – most notably a higher requirement for coolant water, and a lower tolerance for seismic disturbance and coastal erosion. If you look at a map of nuclear and coal plants in the UK for example, the differing requirements are very clear. There is also a scaling issue nuclear power plants generally cluster, which means a significantly greater requirement for grid connectors.

            The other point is that renewables actually benefit wider grids when used correctly. In Ireland it was found that wind generators at the ‘end points’ of grids (i.e. remoter areas far from the main generators) actually benefited the grid, reducing pressure on the mid-points. They gave additional subsidies to those locations for precisely those reasons. European standards now dictate that three circuits are now needed for every 80,000 population area – this in reality means building three 110KV lines for every small town or rural county. in most of Europe this requirement is being tied into localised generating capacity.

            Another point of course is that the new super sized (5GW+) wind turbines can operate well in non-coastal or mountainous areas where there are existing major grids. In Ireland, the location of turbines is now shifting from coastal uplands to inland lowland sites precisely because of this complementarity. The latest generation of solar farms are now being located not in the sunniest sites, but next to existing transformers, precisely because they act as a complement (up to a certain level of course) with legacy infrastructure.

            There will of course come a point where renewable penetration causes problems and marginal costs start to rocket, but there are very few markets where we are even remotely close to that situation. The problems that have arisen have been mostly due to bad planning – financial incentives resulting in solar and wind farms clustering in inappropriate areas (such as in Germany, where they built too many wind farms in the windy north without looking closely at interconnection issues).

      3. Ignacio

        Of course he just mentions, by passing, that nuclear is cheaper and in this case he is talking about kwh cost comparison, and he is lying.

        The article, apart of the intermitency issue (something I guess so obvious as not to account for a “discovery” of the author as it is presented) regards price of land which is included in the generation price and there is no need to count it twice (in Spain about 1-2€/MWh in wind farms, not that important), Then goes to assert, as a premium, that “renewables are not cost-effective” to abate carbon emissions, because, I guess, a carbon thermal plant must be more cost effective to reduce… oh wait! He goes to assert that the supposed cost of carbon abatement with renewables is much higher, here you have to close your eyes and throw yourself to the precipice with the author, than the “estimated social costs of carbon under Obama administration” supposedly not above 50$ per ton of CO2, hahahahahaha!. Reading this is when I realised that all this is just crap. Saying it is not “cost effective” compared with some invented magic number stinks deceptiveness. Why not compare it with nuclear? Why didn’t the author bring the cost of transition to nuclear?

        A true exercise of comparing “cost effectiveness” of transition to renewables compared with transition to nuclear should have been interesting but I guess that if it was done the results wouldn’t be those the author liked so it was missed.

    8. Jeremy Grimm

      Do we have a Market for electric power? From the course description for Standford’s Energy Law (2503): “The U.S. energy system today is subject to a complex regime of state and federal laws.” — That doesn’t sound much like a market. Does the Market have all the answers and “know” all there is to “know” to arrive at an ‘efficient’ result [whatever that means] — true by assumption — unless like me you reject this assumption as pure nonsense. What is the cost of solar energy and wind energy versus running a coal power plant? How would like the numbers to come out? It’s all a matter of deciding what answer you prefer.

      As I understand matters the ‘deregulation’ of electric energy in many states created a situation where alternative energy suppliers get something of a “free-ride” on the Grid which the legacy utility companies are responsible for maintaining and balancing. As I understand the bottom line of deregulation — after figuring in all the costs and taking into account the federal and state mandates and price regulations the utility companies have seen reductions in their profits reflecting profits passed through to alternative energy suppliers. One consequence is a tendency for utility companies to find savings in their maintenance of the Grid. The eventual shutdown of coal burning plants, and somewhat later shutdown of gas burning plants to reduce CO2 as will be mandated squeezes the ability of utility companies to balance the Grid and further further squeezes their profits. The Grid might be balanced if only there were enough storage provided for intermittent alternative energy sources. Who will pay for the batteries, or other schemes for storing energy and just how will the energy be stored? I don’t believe that question has been resolved.

      As far as the linked blurb is concerned it comes in with a ‘number’ for the cost of alternative energy that isn’t ‘green’ enough. It also comes up with that number using the same accounting magic used to craft the ‘green’ numbers we all like to hear. I don’t put much stock into either set of numbers and after Sandy I’m not at all comfortable in believing everything is fine with out Grid and we just need to mandate more solar generation and wind generation and immediately shutdown all the coal powered electric generation. I believe things are a little more complicated than that.

      This is not a matter that pricing mechanisms and the Market can happily resolve. The many considerations at the tail of your comment suggest this is complex systems engineering design problem which can only be solved deliberately and through a series of iterations. It is not a matter for economics and accounting games around some price per kilowatt-hour. I doubt solutions for energy in the future will look much like our existing Grid.

      1. Yassine

        I think most of your points are spot on. The electric grid create specific challenges to market based solutions due to the area over which the operation must be planned and synchronised (google “independent system operators” if you want an idea) and the diversity of the time scales involved (from the decades to consider in planning for the lifetime of generator and network equipment to the milliseconds at which the outputs of the generators has to match the load).

        In contradiction to this, market tend to decentralize decision making and compress time at a scale that is too short to deal efficiently with long term planning and too long to achieve a reliable short term operation. Thus you get market-in-name-only arrangements set up iteratively by beffudled regulators who periodically discover new market inefficiencies that they promptly patch up with a regulation designed to make the market operate like state-owned utility would. For example in France, which has a liberalized electricity market according to EU definition, a response to long term planning inefficiencies was to invent a Programmation Pluriannuelle de l’Energie in which the government says exactly how much of each type of generators it wants to see deployed in the next five years. Then it sets out on devising the regulation that will “allow” the “market” to attain this goal.

        In this light, it is easy to see that renewable energies are not the determining factor in the financial situation of legacy utilities compared to the absurdity of applying market based solutions to a problem that is inherently intractable to them. France again is a clarifying example as the current deep financial troubles of EDF are totally unrelated to renewable energies.

        “Who will pay for the batteries, or other schemes for storing energy and just how will the energy be stored? I don’t believe that question has been resolved.” Hopefully it will be “other schemes” like pumped hydro, compressed-air energy storage, methanation or flywheel for short term (the environmental cost of batteries should make them a last resort). And there is no real question about who will pay : it will be a mutualized cost in the form of a tax levied on the electricty sold on the network and the assets will be owned and operated by an independent operator. In exactly the same way that the transport and distribution networks are operated.

      2. fajensen

        Who will pay for the batteries, or other schemes for storing energy

        Ideally, the people who need always-on, any-power on demand, electrical power. That would be industry and data centres. Of course the world works in a different way.

        The old centralised, top-down, electric grid is designed to meet industrialists requirements and collects the costs of providing their very stable, highly available, low cost power, from all households.

        Renewables change that by decentralising power generation and taking away the centralised control of production.

        In a way we are going back to the “one generator per factory”-model, with the modern twist that many other interests than a few well-connected industrialists with deep pockets will now be power producers. Those newcomers have other, different, interests. Which will conflict with the established interests. Some households are perhaps not so interested in paying for there being lots of power available when they are out or sleeping, some people only want the “green” or “energy independence” aspect.

        As a result, there will be a transition phase with much disinformation, paid-for experts, whining and gnashing of teeth while the VIP-stakeholders of our times figure out how to make society, individuals and households cover their specific energy storage needs. So that the world can be set right again.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Renewables could decentralize power generation — but feeding renewables into the Grid doesn’t quite accomplish that. The giant wind and solar farms are not that proximate to their end users. The people who need always-on, any-power on demand, electrical power — at least between the hours of around 4:30 pm to maybe 11 pm are most people who come home and kick-on their air conditioner and fire up the television. After 11 pm those people still need balanced power but not so much — which is fortunate since most battery back-ups tend to wind down after 11 pm.

          My question about who will pay for the batteries and other storage was rhetorical. Unless laws change the answer is our utility companies, and rate payers depending on how successful the utilities are at passing on the costs. The problem I see is with a “Green” mandate that doesn’t seem to account for or allocate funds for some of the costs. Instead we are sold cost per kilowatt numbers cobbled together as a justification for investments that destabilize the Grid — without some further planning than I’ve noticed going on somewhere.

    9. John k

      Lowest wholesale renewable bid, including storage, I’ve seen is 2.2 cents/kwhr in Texas. China is rapidly installing renewables. If utilities are buying it, it’s cheaper.

    10. drumlin woodchuckles

      And anyway, if renewable electricity costs 11% more than carbon skydumping electricity, just use 11% less of it. And if it costs 17% more, just use 17% less of it. Consider it part of the price of survival.

    11. Adam Eran

      Good points. Then there are competing studies (from Lambert’s Water Cooler):

      “Stanford energy and environment experts examine strengths and weaknesses of the Green New Deal” (symposium) [Stanford News]. Mark Jacobson, director of Stanford’s Atmosphere/Energy Program: “Rather than increasing costs, the GND reduces costs substantially. The upfront capital cost of a 100 percent wind-water-solar electric power generation system is about $9.5 trillion. However, this cost is spread out over many years and will pay itself off over time through electricity sales. Further, a wind-water-solar system uses half the energy as a fossil fuel system and also eliminates health and climate costs due to fossil fuels. As such, U.S. consumers will pay only $1 trillion per year in energy costs with the GND, whereas under a fossil fuel system, they will pay $2 trillion per year in energy costs and $600 billion per year in air pollution health costs, and will incur $3.3 trillion per year in global climate costs due to U.S. emissions, for a total economic cost of $5.9 trillion per year. Thus a wind-water-solar system costs society one-sixth that of a fossil fuel system.”

  2. Krystyn Walentka

    I hope you all read more about the people behind the Gorilla Selfie and the great work the DR anti-poaching people do to save the Gorillas and other animals. The picture is so fascinating and I hope it exposes what these people do to more people.

    These men rescued and now the Gorillas think that they are their parents and mimic their behavior, which is why they are standing like humans.

      1. crittermom

        The same as my favorite animal, the American Buffalo, which is Bison Bison, another unique & confident animal.

        Although I’ve never cared much for monkeys, I’ve always loved gorillas.
        Seeing them in a zoo always makes me sad, however, as we’ve stared at each other through the glass. You can almost see ‘the wheels turning in their heads’.
        Incredible creatures, & this was a great selfie.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that that Park Ranger is saying ‘Just another day at the office. What does yours look like?’

    2. nycTerrierist

      Breathtaking photo — wow!!!

      These wonderful rangers, the anti-poaching people, dog bless them!

  3. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Just 10% of U.S. plastic gets recycled. A new kind of plastic could change that

    I suppose that’s great and all, but couldn’t we simply not use plastic for everything? So much of the plastic in use today is completely unnecessary. First in the list – supposedly organic vegetables that come wrapped in plastic.

    1. Plastic Organic Life

      Yeah funny with the organic. You enter an organic food store and everything is wrapped in a lot of plastic and in small portions as well

          1. newcatty

            I have contacted one of the most egregious example of the major grocery stores, Trader Joe’s, about how irresponsible it is for them to have almost every item of produce wrappped in plastic. And, at least at our local one, the quality of the items was getting worse and worse. I told them we refuse to buy any of their plastic smothered, crappified produce. I did buy a single organic, USA avacodo the other day. I still see lots of customers , though, buying plastic wrapped produce. I haven’t heard a peep from “them” in response. I read some B.S. that they whined and said it’s all because of their supply chains, blah, blah. I said in my comment that I was sure their brilliant people could figure out a solution. No excuses and no B.S.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              A long time ago, when a customer wanted something, he/she asked the store clerk for it, who would show the item, weigh it in front of you, before wrapping it in opaque wax paper. You see them before their disappearance inside the paper, so you trust what you’re getting.

              Today, that clerk is gone. The buyer wants to see what he/she is buying. That’s one reason for clear bags or containers.

              Another reason could be, if you want 5 avocadoes, you need something to keep them together.

              Sometimes, stores want something in a protective container, so the items do not get damaged, or would last longer.

              To undo all this, a lot of store jobs would come back. That would be good, and that’s where we should start.

    2. rod

      I suppose that’s great and all
      You bet it is–its FANTASTIC–a bit late but about time. Now Legislation that says this is the way all plastic gets made while we work to get to–but couldn’t we simply not use plastic for everything?
      This is going to be a springboard to controlling plastic until we can eradicate it.
      Meanwhile lets get Adidas(et al doing the same) a clean stream to remanufacture with.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      And will that new chemistry make my plastic product fall apart even faster? As a meticulous pack rat I’ve been disappointed more and more by stashing some potentially useful plastic item away and finding out when I come to use it that it has offgassed and degraded beyond use.

      How much carbon could we remove from the environment if our supermarkets went back to wrapping everything in pasteboard and cellophane again and we organized our landfills to sequester the waste from the carbon cycle?

      1. Brian (another one they call)

        The first version of a rubberized “tub” type storage device with lid was made of extremely good quality material. it was a sandy color and very flexible. We bought almost 2 dozen to do a job. They have since made clones of the product with a lesser material, but nice colors. We have had to purchase a few more of these tubs. Not one of the new has outlasted the original (20 years). The originals have no holes and are still totally functional, will take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’, and I am still amazed how such a great product could be crapified.
        When a product is a success, it is then degraded so that it can then move toward non existence. How many things have come and gone in this way? It isn’t progress, is it?

          1. Wukchumni

            Ever notice how a good many of the plastic bins and tubs have splashed “Made In The USA” on them, some a number of times, in case you missed the first old glory decal selling point, huzzah!

            Of course, they’re all made of oil, so we can still compete & beat the Chinese on this one retail product.

            1. Svante Arrhenius

              Once Shell’s ethane cracker fires up, and scores-of-thousands of fracked wet gas wells start pumping this through hastily slapped together HFW pipelines towards the coast (past schools, hospitals, through poor communities) well be great again. Soon, pretty much all the toxic, pancreatic cancer causing sippy-cups, baby bottles, storage size baggies, plastic cling wrap, IV drips will all be made by hard working great grandchildren of our redneck union heros.

      2. Svante Arrhenius

        We’d carry old Hellman’s jars or milk jugs to the Co-op we all worked for, since it simplified things. Fill them full of stoopit ethnic shit like organic cashew, peanut butter or tahini (since we wished anything grown in rotation with cotton), cold pressed oils, blueberry/ pomegranate yogurt, za’atar, mushrooms. You get the picture: our betters wouldn’t let us play hippy. Much of the co-op board were doing research or interns at UPMC. Then, one day… in walks some exceedingly well groomed person with fliers for a great new store up the street called Whole Foods. It was like GROOVY, man… hadn’t we heard of Teflon® pans, Canola oil; with cheap imports, we’d be able to leverage our supplier’s prices, cut prices & compete?

  4. WheresOurTeddy

    Lynn Homrich (R – Home Depot) is from the executive class, of course she hates activists and sees them as unruly children to be corrected

    1. a different chris

      Yes the overwhelming confidence that everybody “adult” sees things the same way as they do, and thus those that don’t are “children” is pretty much a marker of that class, D or R.

      I don’t think GA-07 is worth her time, but it would be enjoyable to see AOC come down there and light Ms. Homrich up.

  5. zagonostra

    >Microsoft workers decry grueling ‘996’ working standard at Chinese tech firms

    I think Jean-Jacques Rousseau had it right in the mid 1700’s, the only thing I would add is that in addition to pride and vanity, greed lies at the core of the rot.

    In the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences Rousseau argues that the arts and sciences have not been beneficial to humankind, because they arose not from authentic human needs but rather as a result of pride and vanity. Moreover, the opportunities they create for idleness and luxury have contributed to the corruption of man. He proposed that the progress of knowledge had made governments more powerful and had crushed individual liberty; and he concluded that material progress had actually undermined the possibility of true friendship by replacing it with jealousy, fear, and suspicion.

    1. Summer

      “He proposed that the progress of knowledge had made governments more powerful and had crushed individual liberty; and he concluded that material progress had actually undermined the possibility of true friendship by replacing it with jealousy, fear, and suspicion.”

      Was it leisure and knowledge? I say go deeper. Was it the inventions and the art the that was “corrupting” or at root is it, as David Graeber says in “Debt : The Firs 5,000 Years, “the frantic urgency of having to convert everything around oneself to money, and the rage and indignation at having been reduced to the sort of person who would do so.”
      The rage and indignation can destroy one’s principles or even prevent the development of a principled life.

      Scientists and artists have those same forces at work in their lives. Then it becomes about what will sell and not what is the most enlightening invention, creation, idea.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think that urgency to convert everything to money – though in Genghis Khan’s case (for example), material objects (gold coins or artistic gold cups, horses, precious stones, innovative weapons, etc., including human slaves) were sought after for their own values and not necessariily as a way to get money – can be traced to vanity and pride.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Thanks for the quote.

      It’s interesting that what we (or I) sometimes think as new is, in fact, old and people had the some observations and ideas long ago. Here, we are talking about the occasional skepticsm or criticism of arts, sciences and progress of knowledge. Perhaps we who come later picked up unaware some along the line, or perhaps ideas exist in a realm of their own, whose existence is independent of us humans, and we today can access them independently, just as those before us.

      In any case, it would seem Rousseau would oppose powerful governments, including MMT governments (powerful monetarily).

    3. Plenue

      “In the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences Rousseau argues that the arts and sciences have not been beneficial to humankind, because they arose not from authentic human needs but rather as a result of pride and vanity.”

      He said, while presumably crapping into a hole in the ground he himself dug.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I suppose that he said that in reactoin to the then prevailing wisdom that arts and sciences were all good (which is often what we today assume to be, given the popular coverage of those subjects).

        In that case, to show they were not all good, it was only necessary to show some instances where they were not good (meaning, there would still be situations where they were good).

      2. witters

        A brilliant riposte, Plenue! (Of course, one that proves Rousseau’s point, but let that slide.)

        1. Plenue

          “One that proves Rousseau’s point”

          Does it? One of the theories about what happened to the Indus Valley Civilization is that their waste management wasn’t sufficiently separated from the clean water supplies. Would Rousseau just counter that they shouldn’t have gotten to the point of having cities in the first place?

          And isn’t the idea that we only ever create not out of genuine need but for bragging rights just a variant of Adam Smith’s ideas that everyone is a selfish prick?

  6. toshiro_mifune

    Report: ‘Photographer’ among 2018’s worst jobs due to rise of freelancing, smartphones

    This has been a serious topic of discussion among professional photographers for at least a decade now.
    David Hobby has blogged about it a number of times, as has Thom Hogan and others.
    Newsrooms have been gutted of professional photog staff, various photo sharing sites partnering with Getty pay a fraction of what images used to for licensing and event photographers are in competition with person who bought a DSLR or mirrorless in the past 15 years who thinks they’re pro.

    1. Wukchumni

      A good picture is now worth a billion words, but there’s no money in it.

      A staggering rate of inflation compared to the old standard of a thousand words.

      1. Svante Arrhenius

        HTC, LG and any number of the Chinese Androids seem to get the low light, HDR, large chip Sony or Oppo zooms first. Most of these are affordable. I’m wondering if the invisible hand of young editors, grabbing crowd sourced photos, uploading from Pixel 2 cameras led the technologies or vice versa? My 1989 Maxxum could do everything they’d tried to teach us. Now a Huawei will do that in stabilized 4K?

    2. Joe Well

      If the creative occupations all fall out of the 10% and are open to anyone with a phone and talent, then wonderful. If the MSM collapses, wonderful. May the whole rotten edifice collapse. I hope I live to see the NYT, NPR and every television news network become empty nameplates attached to collectible books like Life magazine.

      Let’s work on doing the same thing for medicine, accounting, and the other professions, and direct the rest of our political action toward building abundant affordable housing and free healthcare.

  7. The Rev Kev

    “Not Hearing About Brexit For Whole Week Declared Better Than Sex”

    If Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield were still alive today, he might describe Brexit as “The pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable”.

  8. Louis Fyne

    “Big Sugar” isn’t just for those wearing tin foil hats.

    (The Economist)

    …..People were increasingly willing to blame fat for many of the health ills of modern life, helped along by the sugar lobby: in 2016, a researcher at the University of California uncovered documents from 1967 showing that sugar companies secretly funded studies at Harvard University designed to blame fat for the growing obesity epidemic. That the dietary “fat” found in olive oil, bacon and butter is branded with the same word as the unwanted flesh around our middles made it all the easier to demonise.

    A US Senate committee report in 1977 recommended a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet for all, and other governments followed suit. ….

      1. Big Tap

        FDA: Top priority is keeping Big Pharma and Big Ag VERY profitable. Regulatory capture on steroids.

    1. dearieme

      1967 was pretty late. The scoundrel Ancel Keys started the propaganda, and the gormless US government adopted it, far earlier than that. WKPD:

      At a 1955 expert meeting at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Keys presented his diet-lipid-heart disease hypothesis …

      As a result, in 1956 representatives of the American Heart Association appeared on television to inform people that a diet which included large amounts of butter, lard, eggs, and beef would lead to coronary heart disease. This resulted in the American government recommending that people adopt a low-fat diet in order to prevent heart disease.

    2. Sanxi

      “1967 showing that sugar companies secretly funded studies at Harvard University designed to blame fat for the growing obesity epidemic.” Really? If you actually get in to Harvard this is what they are up to? Some guy found some papers? At Harvard? I didn’t think the ‘Sugar’ guys were that smart or the Harvard guys so stupid. Now if you told me it was MIT and concerned DOD, no problem, but then MIT never hid it.

    3. jrs

      Big meat and big dairy had as much of a lobby as big sugar did. And they won to a degree as well, the recommendations were originally meant to read: cut back on meat and dairy and instead they abstracted it to things like cut back on “cholesterol” and “saturated fat”.

      1. Joe Well

        @jrs, amen.

        A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and with some moderate consumption of nuts and seeds has been shown to correlate with good health outcomes numerous times. Whether meat and dairy are “bad” for you is controversial, but certainly no pre-20th century population ever consumed them in such vast amounts as today’s Americans so it’s all a science experiment.

        But there are entire industries that are incompatible with a plant-based diet, and admittedly fruits and veg take time and effort to make taste good (you have to get them at just the right ripeness, for instance).

        So people didn’t adopt diets high in plants, they adopted diets high in skimmed dairy products, “lean” meats, and chicken, chicken, chicken, and finished it off with different kinds of sweeteners and highly processed flours.

        1. Martell

          I believe matters are considerably more complicated than that. I don’t doubt that some of the diets you describe as correlated with good health outcomes have in fact been shown to be associated with good health outcomes, especially in comparison with the standard American diet (SAD). But correlation can be established in a number of different ways, including epidemiological studies and randomized, controlled trials. The latter are the gold standard for evidence here, whereas the former are of little value since they allow for confounding variables (this is, for example, one of the problems with the Keys study mentioned above – another being that he cherry-picked the evidence). Now, perhaps there are numerous, methodologically sound, randomized, controlled trials showing that the diet you describe is healthy. I would then wonder what counts as healthy. Is it simply a matter of being free of disease for a few months or years? Or are we talking about longevity? I think it is safe to say that we don’t have very many (if any) good studies concerning the effects of different diets on longevity.

          As for the claim about pre-20th century populations, I wonder if you considered pastoral people, or semi-pastoral people (such as some American Indians), or the Inuit. I would hazard guess that they got a much higher percentage of their macronutrients from protein and fat than SAD people.

          Also, the manner in which diet changed following government recommendations to reduce fat intake, especially saturated fat intake, is rather different than you suggest. My understanding is that food makers thereby had an incentive to reduce fat content, but this created two problems, one having to do with the fact that fats helped hold their products together and the other having to do with fat supplying flavor. Their solution was two-fold: trans-fats to handle the structural problem, and sugar to satisfy taste.

          Finally, I would agree that the flavor of fruits and vegetables depends on a number of factors including (but not limited to) timing. That said, it seems to be the case that one’s sense of taste is dependent on diet. In my own experience, at the very least, I found that fruits and vegetables began tasting much better when I stopped ingesting so much sugar (almost all of which had been added to foods I was eating).

    4. eg

      And they hounded John Yudkin (who wrote “Pure, White and Deadly”) mercilessly

      But he was right all along.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Facial Recognition Creeps Up on a JetBlue Passenger”

    It’s not just your face being abused with this technology. Not that long ago I rang up the Australian Taxation Office with a question. In the options that the telephone-robot presented me, there was one where if I rang up in future, that my voice would automatically identify me through voice recognition without having to identify myself with my Tax File number. I denied that request but you just know that my voice print is on file with the very least the Taxation Office. It will only be a matter of time till this filters through to standard mobiles and telephones.

    1. Xihuitl

      “Facial Recognition Technology.” Isn’t that when the agent looks at your passport or driver’s license and then looks at you?

  10. jfleni

    RE: Unreliable Nature Of Solar And Wind Makes Electricity Much More Expensive, Major New Study Finds.

    Reliable Nature of propaganda from U-Chicago makes any
    any prediction they make extremely PLUTOCRAT friendly
    read with CAUTION!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That’s an ad homimen attack. Intellectually bogus. You need to read the article and see if there is something wrong with it.

      1. Yassine

        There is plenty wrong with the article and the study and PlutoniumKun does a nice job debunking it in detail above but savvy NC readers need only see who the authors are and read the sentence “the new study by a top-notch team of economists, including an advisor to Barack Obama, proves I was right” to see huge red flags everywhere.

        And when you need to link to University of Chicago studies and Breakthrough Institute founder $hillenberger to defend your negative preconceptions on renewable energies, you should anticipate that you will end up on the wrong side of the argument.

  11. Alex V

    For clarity – the 737 simulator video does not show the 737 MAX, it discusses the 737 NG, which has a different trim system UX, and no MCAS.

    1. YY

      The behavior of the planes are slightly different, the behavior of the trim mechanism in manual mode is basically the same. Badly behaving MCAS just makes it more exciting. The point is that it is difficult to manually trim the stabilizer when airspeed and load is high on the stabilizer wing surfaces.

      1. John k

        The video is explaining why, when MCAS has pushed the nose down and the plane is accelerating its way back to Mother Earth, the resulting forces become too high to manually correct trim.

        1. Alex V

          And then the video also explains how to get out of the situation by reducing airspeed, enabling manual correction of trim once again.

  12. Jim A.

    Presidential typography.
    I will point out that to baby boomers, Corey’s “four white letters in sans-serif filling a red box in the upper left corner” evokes a Life magazine cover. I’m not sure that was intentional, but it struck me immediately.

  13. Wukchumni

    Could a computer ever rival Rembrandt or Beethoven? BBC (David L)

    Did any of you ever go to a concert featuring a player piano doing it’s thing dutifully, to an adoring audience?

    Of course we’re talking about state of the art AI-circa 1900, which only replicated human efforts, but would we care more if it was creative enough that the saga of the person responsible for it was of no importance?

    As it is now, a computer can faithfully reproduce digitally most any painting, so that from 50 feet away you’d have difficulty telling the difference between it and an original, and while a masterpiece might be worth $100 million, the exact reproduction’s value is mostly in the frame, as the image is worth almost nothing. $100 million versus $100.

    Would we care about the Cyber Beatles, cranking out love songs initially, and then getting more sophisticated and inventive as they grew in talent?

    1. Chris Cosmos

      Reproducing the past is pointless. I know musicians who can faithfully reproduce the style of various innovative musicians of the past and leave me cold. I focus on the now which is influenced by the past but does not reproduce it.

      1. zagonostra

        “Reproducing the past” in a particular way, a way that makes it your own is NOT pointless, e.g., check out Bob Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain” by some young unknown girl (unknown to me anyhow) and see what I mean.

        I wonder at musician at local venues I go to that play covers close to the originals in order please the audience, but they do it in a way that only “reproduces” the music and doesn’t transform it, so I get your point (Walter Benjamin and the mechanical reproduction of art comes to mind)

      2. Wukchumni

        Art comes in many forms and generally new works aren’t that desirable-so reproducing the past can be profitable, and AI has been the scourge of numismatics thanks to crafty Chinese counterfeiters, who only need take a digital photo of an old coin, in order to create metal dies that faithfully reproduce anything ever made using coinage dies, which is from around 1700 onwards.

        In the old days of counterfeiting, you also needed metal dies for the obverse & reverse of coins, and an artist who could recreate the look of something old, carving it by hand. As a result, there were some counterfeits around of collectible coins, but not many.

        The explosion of these in quantity & quality from the People’s Republic has really accelerated since the turn of the century, to the point where sometimes the forgeries fool experts. The Chinese even have gone to the point of counterfeiting 3rd party grading service ‘plastic slabs’ in which the bogus coins are sealed and certified as to grade and authenticity.

        As an added bonus, there’s no law against making fake coins or gold bullion coins or bars made out of tungsten, in China.

    2. John k

      Experts often have a hard time determining a forged painting is not real. The value is that a famous artist did it, not intrinsic beauty… when a piece is determined fake price might drop 99%, even though the buyers can’t tell the difference.
      Recent example is small painting maybe by da Vinci, bought at 20k in NY, then worth 20-200 mil because determined maybe done by the master, and back to modesty when a forger claimed he did it.

  14. jfleni

    RE: Microsoft workers decry grueling ‘996’ working standard at Chinese tech firms.

    Microswift yahoos are suddenly getting roles as COOLIES and they don’t like it at all!

  15. TalkingCargo

    The Problem With Putting a Price on the End of the World

    This is a fine example of why I find so many articles about AGW annoying. Nordhaus says we need to “harness market forces” which begs the question of can we harness an invisible hand. Steyer and others think that it’s all a question of marketing. Leonhardt concludes that we need to combine the two approaches. So how about if we get a team of economists together with a good ad agency? That’ll solve the problem. That’s like getting your hairdresser to build an addition to your house. George Carlin was right when he said that “America’s leading industry is the manufacture, distribution, packaging and marketing of BS.

    Unfortunately, the only effective way to mitigate AGW is to use a whole lot less energy. For a couple of centuries now we’ve been having this wonderful party with a punchbowl full of fossil fuels. It’s given us cars, planes, the internet and cell phones among other things and so no one wants to take the punchbowl away. The problem is that eventually the punchbowl is gonna run dry and I don’t think the economists and ad agencies are gonna be able to solve that one.

      1. Shonde

        Excellent link. Thank you. The article clearly points out the need for a new non-industrial farmer-labor movement as part of promoting the GND.

        Thanks for many of your links which have provided excellent information sources to me.

        1. Svante Arrhenius

          I think this had come up LONG ago, as David Brock’s CTR minions had culled dissent (and nascent journalism) in the lafty blogs, and great blogs like Yves’ were under assult from the likes of PropR’Not and the browsers, meta-search engines and social networking… Ok, OK, K Street, the Atlantic Council, whomever? If we don’t network, DONATE as possible and promote these sites, ideas, and individual journalists. They’ll soon be SEO’d entirely down Google’s memory hole? Thank you… I’ll go shut up now!

    1. Grant

      Well said. The non-market nature of environmental and social impacts has been known to economists for centuries, although people like Karl William Kapp and modern ecological economists have really been the ones to focus on it. Too bad economists didn’t use his insights to build on instead of late 19th century fathers of neoclassical economics. But even J.B. Say realized this a few centuries ago. “Land is not the only natural agent which is productive, but it is the only one, or almost the only one, that man has been able to appropriate. The waters of the sea and of our rivers, by their aptitude to impart motion to machines, to afford nourishment to fishes, to float our ships, are likewise possessed of productive power. The wind and the sun’s rays work for us; but happily no one has been able to say, The wind and the sun are mine, and I must be paid for their services.”

  16. Chris Cosmos

    What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?

    Levine, like many doctrinaire leftists who does not seem to hang out with people who favor Trump, does not understand what Trump represents. He just, if you read the article, thinks these people, along with Trump are just stupid. This is not true. Levine just may not be well-schooled in either history or social science because the rise of Trump signifies something much more important than the rise of stupidity. Why do I say this? Because stupidity as such has risen sharply in all demographics. For example, the “left” swallowed whole the Russia conspiracy theory for which there was no evidence when the theory started and no evidence now. This was even more obvious than the “evidence” for the Iraq War yet progressive Democrats believed it then and, for the most part, continue to believe it.

    The fact is we now live, solidly, perhaps due to our deeply flawed and increasingly corrupt education system (at all levels) in a post-rational age. Mythology has taken center stage and fact- evidence-based reality is on the wane dramatically. This has become the case at all levels of our society on the left and right, in the working class and ruling class and all levels in-between. Witness the incredible lack of interest in ecology and climate change in this country whether or not people “believe” in it or not. No only do people who don’t accept science not care but even those who accept, more or less, the findings of climate science simply don’t care and are more interested in what happens next on Game of Thrones.

    Levine misses all this and just goes on with spewing hatred for Trump’s stupidity without acknowledging that the guy has deftly handled the political machinations in the imperial snake pit to his advantage and avoided several attempted coups (I include the Russiagate canard as one) and sits ready to win another term because he understands completely and is the exemplar of Hegel’s idea of a “world-historical figure”, i.e., Trump represents the movement of Western civilization into a post-rational age–not by going back in time but forward. Rulers now use, not rational appeals, but a kind of magic to rule the public. Scott Adams is one and was one of the few to recognize Trump’s ability to persuade which is why he predicted Trump would be President when Trump was less than 5%. How did he know this? And why shouldn’t we take what he says more seriously rather than take seriously the pronouncements of those who are consistently wrong?

    Whatever this new age is, it is unlike any other in recorded history and involves magic not reason.

    1. djrichard

      I still think CJ Hopkins put it best in

      Trump, … despite his bombastic nativist rhetoric is clearly no “hero of the common people,” nor any real threat to global capitalism, … has become an anti-establishment symbol, like a walking, talking “[family blog] you” to both the American and global neoliberal elites.

      The establishment dems have no response to this because it’s the refutation of what they stand for. All they can do is continue the war on populism that CJ Hopkins is describing.

      And disruption of Trump is going to have to come from other anti-establishment quarters.

      1. pjay

        I think you (and Hopkins) provide the best basic explanation for the Trump phenomenon. Chris C. also makes a number of good points with which I mostly agree. However, while I think Trump certainly reflects our particular moment in history, I don’t know how “deftly” he has dealt with “the political machinations in the imperial snake pit,” and I doubt he “understands completely” what is going on around him. His talent is as a huckster, which serves him well in today’s political show biz. At the deeper level of power, I think he is in over his head. Perhaps his instincts for self-preservation have helped him walk the tightrope for now. But I don’t think his worries are over.

        1. Chris Cosmos

          At the deep level of power everyone is in over their heads. I think Trump appears to have the sense to know that level exists which most of his critics show no understanding of.

        2. Plenue

          There are underlying factors that led to Trump’s rise, and that will vomit up more and worse specimens if they aren’t addressed (which it seems likely they won’t be).

          That said I don’t think Trump has any deep level of understanding of the historical moment he exists in or the factors at play, beyond, as you say, a hucksters instincts. He had the guile to see people the Dems were ignoring and appealed to them.

          But remember that he won by a very narrow margin. For all the underlying systemic factors I think he also simply got lucky by having such a monumentally foolish opponent. I expect whoever comes after Trump will win by a bigger margin, and as time goes on such candidates will have a more and more solid footing and need simple luck less and less.

          1. Lepton1

            “But remember that he won by a very narrow margin.”

            He lost by over 3 million votes. He won because of the quirky electoral college.

            1. Plenue

              Yeah, shame Clinton was ignorant of that quirk and couldn’t be bothered to make even a single appearance in several states.

    2. John Beech


      I believe you miss the obvious; Mr. Levine won’t get a paycheck for writing otherwise. When President Trump says and writes things about ‘the failing/corrupt NYT and fake news’ he basically addresses EVERY news organization on the planet, including this blog, which is arrayed against him. Put another way, I continue waiting for hidden camera footage of the man doing No. 2 just so to see how many variations emerge of the predictable headline . . .

      “President doesn’t know how to wipe his butt!”

      Moreover, I remain convinced he may yet manage to get Palestinians and Israel to the table and achieve something. This, due to the nuclear goings on with the House of Saud, and other back door deals to bribe Arabs. That, plus the stick and by the stick I mean how he’s deftly applied it via the move of the Embassy to Jerusalem. Along with Bibi’s campaign threat/promise to legitimize West Bank settlements, which post Golan Heights means Palestinians are running out of time and know it, e.g. they will soon have no prospective ‘country’ left! The point being, with Arab support being siphoned off, and the crushing they’re receiving in Gaza, they will be forced to the table and perhaps, finally, something rational results other than ‘death to Israel’ and ‘no right to exist’ coming out of their mouths.

      If he manages that, can you imagine the contortions the Democrats will engage in as they tie themselves in knots? After all, surely with this success he will deserve a Nobel – for real vs. the sham the committee engaged in with respect to President Obama (who did absolutely nothing to deserve it mere months after entering office other than being a smooth talker who inspired hope). Me? I’m an actions speak louder kind of guy so I was disappointed in how they cheapened the brand.

      Circling back, that would be a terrific accomplishment for the Trump administration but he won’t receive any credit for it, or even for setting the table and trying. Case in point; just the mere fact we’re talking to NK with recent news of a 3rd possible meeting is great in my view. I mean look, President Obama didn’t manage to do even that! Important because I’m a talk-talk is better than war-war kind of guy also.

      And yes, I’m aware of the irony in how I made both of my last points using the word talk ;>)

      1. Chris Cosmos

        Interesting thoughts! However there is no chance for the two state solution. The best possibility is a one-state solution with a version of apartheid. The central reality of Israel is it is a tribal state that views non-Jews, to an increasing degree as sub-human.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Totally agree with you. There are hints coming out that neighbouring countries will be offered billions to take huge swathes of the Palestinians in from Israel. No chance of that flying of course. You said the best possibility. You want to know what the worst possibility may be?
          Back in ’72, Idi Amin ordered all the Asians out of Uganda in 90 days or ‘stuff’ might happen to them. Countries all around the world were taking thousands of them in.

          Down the track when Israel has an Ultra-orthodox government, I would not be surprised if a mass expulsion was ordered for Palestinians as well. A Palestinian Diaspora if you will. And yet ironically Israelis and Palestinians have identical DNA.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        So Trump is going to get Palestinians and Israelis to the table by letting Israel continue to shred international law and take away everything they have?!?!? What will they be negotiating over at that point?

        I prefer talking to starting wars myself but I’m really at a loss for words after what I just read above.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I don’t think that the good professor ever got over the results of the 2016 Presidential elections. In fact, on the night of November 8th 2016 he must have felt positively shattered.

      1. Arizona Slim

        BTW, Shattered was a good book. I’ll never forget that passage about the birth of the Russia Cubed narrative. It happened in a room full of empty Shake Shack containers …

        1. Plenue

          I also distinctly remember Clinton sneering out some “You work for Putin” comment during one of the debates (maybe the second one). It’s a meme that predates election night. No one ever seriously believed it until they needed to convince themselves Boris & Natasha caused their loss.

    4. Tomonthebeach

      I think one could make a solid case that your conclusion that “Whatever this new age is, it is unlike any other in recorded history and involves magic not reason.” is not like any other in recorded history. Magic, usually from “the gods” has been at the heart of imperial reigns for millennia. It is not a far stretch to include pre-WWI Europe. Where would monarchies be without the magic of the gods legitimizing their edicts?

    5. newcatty

      Chris Cosmos, agree with your main points. But, I wonder: did the ” left ” really just swallow the Russia conspiracy , or at least the ones in any kind of power or influence on the public, or quite purposefully promote and inflame the false narrative? Same for the Iraq war…Democrats supported that war. Find it difficult to believe that those in Congress, considering that Cheney and party were in White House administration, who were the ones pushing the lies and fear. Yes, many people have, for the most part, shown little interest in ecology and climate science. Think, in part, it is not due to just ignorance or even disinterest. Think it’s a break down of trust and belief that anything can be done to save the world. Actually, the magic of this age is indeed potent. Its a black magic, not applied to reason that would support and enhance life ; but is crafted to support greed, power and control.

      1. jrs

        but he makes a good point that the disinterest is partly a purely American phenomena.

        More protests around the world about climate change and in the U.S. almost nothing it seems … so the “breakdown in trust and belief that anything can be done to save the world”, seems to be worse in the U.S. than elsewhere.

  17. dearieme

    Lockheed (LMT) Costly F-35 to Be Billions More, Pentagon Finds

    But that’s the purpose of the F-35, isn’t it? I mean, it’s unlikely to be much use for warfare.

    1. John Beech

      As a pilot and through knowing a few who know more about the F-35, I think you unfairly and perhaps ignorantly/unknowingly dismiss the capabilities of this weapon platform. Or don’t you understand how it integrates with the Raptor? It basically augments its effectiveness and by our allies having them it means they become a force multiplier. What I also believe, unless you’re a pilot, is you totally fail to grok how very complex an endeavor it is to be inventing and creating. Copying afterward, or criticizing with little understanding is ever so much easier. Correct me if you actually have flight experience or have patents in your name. I have both and even so, I sometimes struggle to understand even a fraction, much less all Lockheed is accomplishing. And I certainly don’t understand enough to criticize. My point is, we’re Americans, and Lockheed employees go to work every day trying to do their best to give the best to our best, the ones at the pointed end of the spear. I find it vaguely disloyal for you to disparage their efforts. Especially if you have no foundation of experience for doing so. And please note, I’m one of the few here who proudly uses my name instead of a childish handle and thus, I stand by my words and thoughts like a man before one and all so if you’re going to respond in childish anger, step up your game and use your name, plus use a well reasoned response.

      Gauntlet thrown and flame suit on because I find your attitude both insufferable and smug.

      1. 'The Rev Kev

        I can understand your feelings but please remember that sooner or later that a group of American infantry is going to be pinned down somewhere and when they call in air support, it will not be a A-10 Thunderbolt rolling in but an F-35 Lightning instead. And this will be because the F-35 fanboys said ‘Oh yeah, the F-35 can totally do the job of an A-10. You can scrap them now’. Then you will see the consequences of adopting this bastard child of a once great corporation.

        1. Wukchumni

          What I find fascinating in regards to the 2 versions of Lockheed Lightning fighter planes, is the P-38 flying over my head @ the Planes of Fame museum in Chino about 20 years ago was the quietest piston driven aircraft i’ve ever heard-and a dual engine plane. (their Japanese Zero-the only one that has an original engine and is in flying condition, was by far the loudest)

          The F-35 on the other hand…

        2. PlutoniumKun

          The latest POGO report on the F-35 is very enlightening.

          The fleet-wide sortie rates for the three F-35 variants POGO calculated from the 2017 report were extremely low, averaging between 0.3 and 0.4 sorties per day. During Operation Desert Storm, frontline combat aircraft including the F-15 and F-16 flew an average of at least one sortie per day, and the A-10 fleet averaged at least 1.4 sorties per day. Even under the pressure of recent Middle East combat deployment, the F-35’s rates have not improved. According to statements from the squadron commander, 6 F-35Bs onboard the USS Essex flew over 100 sorties in 50-plus days in the Middle East. In other words, each F-35B flew a third of a sortie per day—meaning they flew an average of once every three days—in sustained combat.

          At least they won’t be around very long:

          The services had expected the F-35 to fly for half a century, but it is possible that many of the legacy aircraft it is meant to replace may still be in service by the time the first F-35s have been scrapped.

          All F-35s are supposed to have a service life of 8,000 hours, a standard military aircraft lifespan. To ensure the design will last, each model is required to undergo three lifetimes’ worth (24,000 hours) of structural load testing to determine if they can handle the representative stress placed on them during takeoffs, landings, and in flight. In the course of this life testing over the years, engineers have found numerous instances of cracks and wear in the test airframes’ structural components and joints. For example, an attachment joint between the vertical tail and the airframe on an F-35A failed during testing in October 2010. This forced a redesign of the joint that was later incorporated into the manufacturing process. That test aircraft, after this repair and others, went on to complete the full three lifetime tests, and, according to the 2018 report, is currently undergoing a complete evaluation to determine what other fixes are needed and whether F-35As do indeed have an 8,000-hour life.

          I wouldn’t mind betting that there will still be F-16’s and A-10s in service when the last F-35 is retired.

          1. Jim A.

            And the B-52 will outlast them all. The B-52s flying today are older than the Wright Flyer was when the first B52s flew. In a few years the B-52s flying will be older than the Wright Flyer was when the actual airframes were built.

      2. notabanker

        Yes, we need that pointed end of the spear to protect ourselves from the Iranians and Venezuelans when they invade our sovereign territory and try and overthrow the government. Oh, wait….

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The engine of the F-35 is about 40% more powerful than the F-16, which certainly would account for some of the extra noise. The F-35’s engines also have a lower by-pass ratio than the F-16’s, which is a major component of noise generation – with civilian aircraft, as a general rule the higher the by-pass, the lower the noise.

          Its a long time since I read up on the topic of civilian aircraft noise, but I vaguely remember reading that some engines have lower level frequencies which means the noise travels further – its also possible that lower frequencies increase the ‘perception’ of noise (as our perception of noise can be quite different from decibels, which is a measure of energy).

          Just speculating, but with stealth you have different inlet and nozzle designs (both are one of the biggest radar reflectors on a jet aircraft), which could also be contributing to noise.

      3. derechos

        You’ll need that flame suit if you’re flying that F-35. Two have crashed within the past 7 months; the most recent just 2 weeks ago. The pilot of that Japanese F-35 was apparently killed, and the rest of Japan’s F-35 fleet grounded. I cannot find any update as to whether the Japanese have resumed flying this horribly expensive and very flawed weapon.

        1. Wukchumni

          There was 10-15 minutes of F-35’s dogfighting overhead about a month ago and nothing since. That’s a whole 1 sortie in 3-4 months time. It used to happen once or twice a week.

          On the other hand, maybe they grew bored of us?

      4. JohnnySacks

        Performance of these systems is measured in watered down scripted test scenarios which don’t correlate well to the real chaos of what a real enemy would be throwing their way. Lockheed, General Dynamics, Raytheon, etc. employees are the recipients of a massive jobs welfare program of zero societal benefit other than bringing home the bacon for their senatorial and congressional districts regardless of the performance or lack thereof of whatever it is they may be producing. It’s nice that they can get some pride and sleep well at night feeling like they’re doing their best to support the best of the best but they arrive home with a nice paycheck in time to attend their children’s baseball games and recitals while the service members using their equipment are half way around the world getting cut to pieces with guerrilla tactics of AK-47’s, car bombs, and IEDs fighting for the world’s biggest nothing – our interests and foreign policy whims. But rest assured, Iran will be the one – they’re going to hand us our asses and the disruption of Persian Gulf oil flow will inflame our European allies from whom we’ll get no support.

      5. Plenue

        Assuming for a second all that gee-whiz tech isn’t so much crap, the F-35 started as a replacement for the F-16. It was supposed to be the cheap, abundant plane to the premium F-22. Now it’s something like four times the cost of a new F-16. How much of its transformation into a futuristic ‘force multiplier’ is genuine advancement, and how much is pure cancerous growth meant to pad Lockheed Martin’s bank accounts?

        Also, and this isn’t a minor point: We. Don’t. Need. It. Force multiplier? For what? Bombing more ISIS technicals? The F-35 is a stupid product. It’s a worthless corporate welfare toy that, when it’s ever used at all, will be performaning the same mundane strike missions against defenseless targets already existing planes were doing. Lockheed Martin might as well have made a giant kite with weapon mounts. It would have been just as effective.

  18. John Beech

    I’ve seen the photo of the park rangers and gorillas before on Reddit, and loved it then, and still love it now. How they manage to emulate the pose of these men is astonishing. I’m glad to see protection for these creatures in a country that has serious problems for its humans.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Nancy Pelosi shows no restraint on disparaging young progressive women”

    Wait, that can’t be right. Pelosi describes herself as a progressive. I’ve heard her. She even had her photo taken with the new progressives entering Congress. If this is so, then maybe her fight is really not with progressives as such but just with young women instead because they are, well….young. The old do get jealous of the young after all.

    1. Svante Arrhenius

      Remember, how Stalinist era party congress photos were constantly being retouched as the promissing, up and coming functionaries were liquidated? Wasn’t Ho a photo retoucher in Paris? Hey, I wonder if it’s because they’re all… nah, nevermind!

    2. Robert McGregor

      You know the “crotchety old man” theme; well the same applies to old women. There is something about being older–and I’m older myself at 63 that can give you an overconfidence–like that you actually know what you’re talking about. (Think of that old codger Republican who was chairman on the Justice panel, kissing Kavanaugh’s ass) Nancy Pelosi has some talent and experience, but may be more trouble than she’s worth, and should be taken out of there. AOC should be visiting Pelosi in the old folk’s home, not taking order from her!

      1. Plenue

        “Pelosi in the old folk’s home”

        I remain genuinely convinced that there is something wrong with Pelosi’s mental heath. The recent interview she did where she said the AOC wing of the party was like ‘five people’, when told they were progressive she instantly and awkwardly chimed in that “I’m a progressive”. The tone, it was like a Pavlovian response, and didn’t really fit the context at all.

        She’s almost 80. Feinstein is 85. It’s ridiculous to see Sanders smeared as too old when he’s younger than pillars of the party like this.

  20. Dita

    Re: Companies selling “good” germs now – When I stopped using soaps several years ago I used MotherDirt products the first year. I found the products worked most effectively once I changed to a showerhead filter that removes chlorine. No point paying a premium to build up the skin’s biome when chlorine is just as effective in killing it off as it does “bad” germs. Anyway, the whole process was worth the effort, i’m happily soap free now. And I smell jesta fine

  21. Christian Stewart

    I think another issue that needs to be addressed is the lack of privacy protection (on the internet) for consumers in nearly every US state besides California. California passed its Consumer Privacy Act in 2018, which gives people the right to know how their information is collected, how it gets used, if it’s shared or not, and to see which of their information a company has.

    This article ( gives a good explanation of what the California law does and why regulation at a federal level is so difficult. It was pretty clear to me after Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai’s Senate hearings that the legislators had no clue how tech companies worked. I think just some simple privacy laws will help shift the dynamic of the internet “datasphere” from company-friendly to user-friendly.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “The Sea Beneath Us”

    Well, that’s not good. That’s not good at all. I had imagined that with sea level rises that there would be a more or less distinct sharp tidal line at play with neat lines of retreat obvious. According to this article, it is not going to be like that at all but that there are going to all sorts of dangerous grey zones along the coastline. And the biggest danger will not be that rising groundwater but will be all those buried past legacies of toxic waste. Our past will come back to haunt us. I can only imagine if that was happening to a military base that handled a lot of aircraft fuels and the like.

    1. DorothyT

      I remember reading during the immediate time of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina that the second ecological area most at risk was the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Region and its potential for saltwater intrusion with catastrophic consequences. It is ground zero of California’s water supply system.


      Seawater intrusion is either caused by groundwater extraction or increased in sea level … Salinization of groundwater is one of the main water pollution ever produced by mankind or from natural processes. It degrades water quality to the point it passes acceptable drink water and irrigation standards.

      1. Wukchumni

        Marc Reisner, who wrote Cadillac Desert, also penned “A Dangerous Place: California’s Unsettling Fate”, which focuses on the California Delta in particular.

        1. newcatty

          Good for pointing out Marc Reisner as an author. One of the most important writer’s regarding water resources and ecology in the American West. My spouse worked in arid land research for some 20 years, with an emphasis on water resources. Reisner is a hero.

  23. Synoia

    F#%: But the long-range cost estimate for operating the fleet from 2011 to 2077

    Will manned war planes be completely obsolete well before 2077?

    It would be interesting to game out when Chinese and Russian unmanned planes, drones,can out fly, out maneuver and be much less expensive to replace than the manned F35.

    It look to me as if the F35’s projected lifetime is like projecting a steam powered aircraft in 1910, for ue until 2000.

  24. Brindle


    Hard for me understand Amy Klobuchar’s campaign. It’s like she sees a battle going on between centrist candidates as to who can be the most centrist and she is king of that hill.This statement about billionaires and student debt is just silly.

    Klobuchar from last nights CNN townhall thing:

    –“If a billionaire can refinance his yacht, students should be able to refinance student loans. It’s that simple.”–

    1. nippersmom

      Klobucher strikes me as one of those candidates who couldn’t actually tell you why she’s running for president in the first place.

      1. newcatty

        Klobucher sounds like she thinks that emotionally driven simplistic appeals will pull in support for her candidacy. It won’t and can’t help but think that the ridiculous comparison of college loan debts to billionaires’ toys is insulting and pandering.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I wonder if she did any polliing beforehand to see if that pandering would work or not.

          An unsophisticated panderer might have failed to make a simple check like that.

  25. Foomarks

    Typography & Design in campaigns: this might have worked in prior campaigns when the general populous could afford to be aspirational on “change” & “hope”.

    Because of worsening economic circumstances, I feel the general electorate now are going to be moved more by policy issues than the subconscious appearance of candidates concocted by campaign managers and designers.

    Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of designers bought into their own koolaid and vote according to outward appearances instead of track record and policy. (The article kinda proves that point.)

  26. Kurt Sperry

    NIH, FBI Accuse Scientists In US of Sending IP To China, Running Shadow Labs ars technica

    This, it seems to me, wouldn’t even be an issue if health research weren’t systemically poisoned by the profit motive. Why shouldn’t anti-cancer research be considered a patrimony belonging to the entirety of humanity? Health research should be open-source and shared freely with anyone who can use it for the benefit of humanity. There should be no private IP in the fight against cancer or any other disease or illness.

  27. Craig H.

    > No trial date yet for Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes

    My predictions:
    1. she will go to jail for less than the 22 months Patty Hearst got for robbing a bank where people were shot;
    2. the lawyers will find some way to present E.H. as the real victim;
    3. the state of CA will come across in the press as utterly idiotic;
    4. the defense is going to go down in the books; I am speculating E.H.’s father molested her and gave her brutal forced twinkie enemas over a period of years and he is the real monster here.

    There is only one possible least bad outcome and that is a plea deal is reached. Odds she doesn’t have to spend one day in jail ~50-50.

    1. Robert McGregor

      Craig H., I’ll bet you on that. They are not going to let her off with no jail. Weiner got something like 20 months, and all he did was show his dick. Holmes is responsible for the 2nd greatest financial fraud of all time. The perpetrator of the greatest financial fraud is currently serving 120 years. But they may let her off easy, with say . . . eight years.

      1. Craig H.

        It’s Federal so you have that going for you. The judge, the prosecutor, hypothetical jurors will all be residents of the state of California. This is a very large hurdle as the supervisors in Washington are painfully aware.

        Maybe it won’t be twinkie enemas but it will be horrifyingly epic. It will be like Homer having Ajax splattering brains about inside Trojan head gear. Please let there not be a trial.

  28. Stratos

    RE: Shifting neighborhoods: Gentrification and cultural displacement in American cities NCRC

    In two instances, the authors of that piece stated that Black residents of New Orleans “abandoned” their neighborhoods. In reality, they were forced out of their traditional neighborhoods post-Katrina by:

    * Insurers refusing to compensate them for the damages to their homes

    * Destruction of public housing

    * Escalating rents

    * If all else failed, some were forcibly removed from their (mortgage free) homes by city edict (property condemnations)

    Many Black families in New Orleans had history in the city that dated back to the 1600s. They had endured plagues, fires, floods and hurricanes for centuries. Those Black families did not “abandon” NOLA, they were ruthlessly pushed out of their communities.

  29. zer0

    On ‘Millenials Reshape Real Estate”

    “Millennials like dogs and there is a trend to focus on pets before getting married and starting a family”

    Another stupid article on Millenials. I love how lack of income & student debt somehow becomes ‘focus on pets before marriage’ and ‘they like living in apts’ and ‘they spend money on starbucks and cellphones’.


    1/3 of BB’s have $0 in retirement, and they will get SS while Millenials most obviously wont (or will have to pay such high taxes during their lifetime, it will cancel itself out).
    Gen X’ers have the most debt. Millenials, even including student debt, have LESS debt than the previous generations. They are more frugal. They are more health conscious.

    Millenials eat out more often…yes…as they are YOUNGER. These polls and statisticians should get a lesson in interpreting data. You cant compare eating habits of 25-35yo to 50-60 yo and expect to get ‘generational differences’. Are they comparing to BB’s at 20-30 yo, back in 1975? Of course not, that kind of analysis is clearly too complex and logical for these idiots who write these asinine articles that make, literally, no sense at all.
    Housing is overpriced, assets inflated once again. During my lifetime, there was never a period where my parents house was worth less than a few million $. And they bought it for $300,000 in 1990.
    Now the cities have all the jobs. Yet the cities also have some of the highest housing prices historically.
    Do you really think Millenials DONT want a house? If you do, youre blinded by the same idiocy of these pollsters who cant even account for age differences when it comes to dining out.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? Why does being younger = eating out more as a logical conclusion? When I was in Oz, people recalled how broke they were as young people (as in living on pasta and rice and beans) and eating out would have been beyond their budgets.

      My parents even now don’t have a house worth a half a million. Mileage clearly varies.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I agree that we can’t jump to that logical conclusion.

        Perhaps it just looks that way (younger, eating out more) if one looks only at online reviews of restaurants. Photos accompanying many reviews might show younger reviewers.

        My own experience tells me that there are some eateries that attract younger crowds, and some older ones. When I take my 87 yr old mom out eatig, she is always on the look out for others of her age.

  30. Summer

    RE: Disintegration of capitalism / WWIII

    Systems of manipulation depend on trust, and this system destroys the very thing it is dependent on until there is only force to continue the system.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      The concepts of “integrating capitalism” and “disintegrating capitalism” seem to rest on the old argument that a more integrated world marketplace leads toward a more stable world. The forces of “integrating capitalism” may have been good as they began with the Marshall Plan. But I believe the argument presented in this link slides a little too smoothly past the way this “integrating capitalism” evolved into our present “globalism” with its Imperial and Corporate mechanisms for ‘integration’. I believe this “integrating capitalism”, aka. globalism, is a primary cause for the “red-flag” items listed as instabilities potentially leading to World War III. What is pejoratively termed “disintegrating capitalism” is nothing more than the rejection of efforts to construct a de facto Corporate Imperium. The onus for making this rejection a cause for World War III falls on the shoulders of the entities pushing toward Corporate Imperium — chiefly, elements of the US Power Elite.

  31. barrisj

    Related to the Assange business, the 4th Circuit yesterday denied Chelsea Manning’s appeal on her jailing and no-bail charge of contempt-of-court for refusing to testify before a grand jury that is hearing testimony related to Wikileaks publishing of Manning’s release of classified materials in 2010, for which she was found guilty by court-martial, served 7 years, then had her sentence commuted by Obama just before he left office. Her incarceration is rather open-ended, and she can only be released if: (1) she agrees to GJ testimony, or (2), the GJ completes its term of empanelment. One can argue that the government is not letting up on Manning, ignoring her sentence commutation, and is using any and all contrivances to keep her locked up until she gives up Assange to the satisfaction of the feds.

  32. barrisj

    Looks like the Supremes are drawing up the 5-4 battlelines in favour of the “citizenship question” for the upcoming decennial census. As usual, the Fab Five, who normally have greatly restricted administrative decisions made by the regulatory agencies, now seem to allow Wilbur Ross and the Commerce Dept. wide latitude in restoring the citizenship question to the census form, despite it being absent since the 1950 Census:

    Argument analysis: Divided court seems ready to uphold citizenship question on 2020 census
    The Supreme Court heard oral argument this morning in the dispute over the Trump administration’s decision to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. The federal government says that the Department of Justice wants data about citizenship to better enforce federal voting rights laws. But the challengers in the case counter that asking about citizenship will lead to an inaccurate count, because households with undocumented or Hispanic residents may not respond. After roughly 80 minutes of often tense debate, the justices seemed divided along ideological lines, with the conservative justices appearing ready to uphold the use of the question.

    Federal Judge Jesse Furman, of the SDNY, in January issued a 277-page, tightly and comprehensively argued ruling that barred Ross and Commerce from adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census, and most court observes reckoned that Furman’s opinion would easily withstand SCOTUS scrutiny. Evidently, when ideology enters the legal thicket, all bets are off, as the Court’s hard-right faction yet again seemingly will defer to the Trump Administration.

  33. Cal2

    “Gas prices are too high!”

    “That’s the price you pay for sanctions on Iran and Venezuela that can’t sell their oil anymore.
    Aren’t you glad to do your part in the Global War On Terror, or whatever it’s called this month, by paying more?”

    1. barrisj

      Actually, it’s all about “regime change”, that discredited foreign policy that Trump once disavowed, but now is totally on-board with that doctrine…plus ça change, etc., etc..

  34. JerryDenim

    Boeing 737 Unable to Trim!! Cockpit video-

    Lambert, Thank you! Finally, SPEED!!!!

    Incredibly important factor in any out of trim emergency situation, basic pilot knowledge, and exactly why you may want to consider reducing your thrust/speed especially when you have exceeded the aircraft’s maximum airspeed and you are struggling to manually trim an out-of-trim aircraft. The pilots in the You Tube video did not reduce their thrust/speed despite discussing it at length, because the guy making the video wanted the most interesting and dramatic video he could produce. Immediately reducing thrust to idle and deploying the speed brakes would have made things far more manageable and way less exciting for the video.

    The Ethiopian Ministry of transport claimed their pilots followed procedures. They did not. There was no logical reason to exceed Vmo with take-off thrust set while in a nose-down mis-trim situation. There was also no reason to turn the automated stabilizer trim motor back on after procedures dictated it remain off.

    Once again, not excusing Boeing, nor am I saying that a MCAS nose down runaway trim situation coupled with an AOA vane failure is an easy emergency, but it should not have been a fatal emergency for a properly skilled and trained crew. As a pilot you always have to fly the airplane first and then work your emergency second. Allowing a mis-trimmed aircraft to fly you into the ground with take-off thrust set is not flying the plane, that’s letting the airplane fly you.

    1. marku52

      OK so like half the pilots in the world are incapable of flying Boeing planes.

      Kind of limits their market share, wouldn’t you say?

      I understand your desire for more training. It’s not there. What now?

  35. JerryDenim

    Lynn Homrich-

    VP of HR for Home Depot? Wow. Sounds like a regular John Galt. Absolute pinnacle of capitalism. I’m fully sold.

    Seriously though, does anyone who has ever worked for a large corporation have any kind of regard for people with management level positions in HR? Doesn’t seem like much to brag about. Oh hi, I’m the person who made your benefits an unnavigable and unknowable Gordian knot of forms, passwords and outsourced third-party contractors. Did you enjoy last week’s email celebrating diversity and urging you to link your Fitbit to tracking and monitoring computers operated by our business partners? That was me!!!

  36. Tomonthebeach

    Annoying that the press is giving the Sri-Lankan government a pass on not acting on the bomb threat intel. This 2-bit country wants to be a radical Buddhist Israel. They have been systematically slaughtering all religious minorities with impunity while the world shrugged. If ever a country deserved to be embargoed and sanctioned Sri-Lanka is a classic target. Economic sanctions would hurt the majority, and it is they who are the crusaders.

  37. cripes

    Bernie Sanders has Democrats on the ropes – is he the man to beat Trump?

    Um, no, the Democratic party VOTERS have spoken and Sanders has a significant lead, despite the 20-odd nothingburgers the DNC has undoubtedly encouraged to dilute the vote heading to a “brokered” convention robbery.

    The Guardian could have just said he has the party apparatchiks and their billionaire donors on the ropes, but it looks like they changed the headline instead.

    If ever there was a time to make your vote count, this is it. Tell your friends and anyone standing on the populist fence, discouraged, apathetic or drunk; register now so you can vote in the primary. Like Chicago, the primary is the important vote, because it decides the election, unlike Chicago, it won’t work with a fill-in-the-generic democrat, only with Sandernistas New Deal style politics.

    For the remaining commune-ists, was it in 1905 that Lenin said to vote Menshivik and organize Bolshevik? Overton’s window hasn’t been this far left since 1972 or longer, jump through it.

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